LAUSANNE–ANTELIAS– On Sunday–August 25–the world Christian community celebrated the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Faith and Order movement in Lausanne–Switzerland. This Landmark event in the modern history of the Ecumenical Movement included a series of functions and celebrations organized by "Faith and Order" and the churches in Lausanne.
The first international gathering of Faith and Order was held in 1927 in Lausanne in order to urge the churches to embrace the goal of visible unity. The Faith and Order movement has included theologians from almost all ecclesiastical traditions. In 1946 with the creation of the World Council of Churches–Faith and Order was integrated into the structures of the Council.
His Holiness Aram I has participated actively in Faith and Order for many years first as a young theologian–and then as member of its Plenary Commission and Standing Committee.
His Holiness Aram I attended two major celebrations in Lausanne. In his opening remarks as Moderator of the WCC–His Holiness recalled how Faith and Order movement made Him interact with other ecclesiastical traditions and theological perceptions. "Faith and Order became a sort of school for me–where I came to learn through living dialogue and existential encounter about other traditions. Indeed–Faith and Order enlarged the scope of my theological reflections–deepened my knowledge about other churches and gave me a vision of church that transcends the confines of my own church" said His Holiness Aram I.
Describing His intervention as "a personal testimony," His Holiness Aram I shared with the audience the following three observations:
"After 75 years of committed struggle for the visible unity of church–it is significant to note that Faith and Order considers itself an integral and inseparable part of the one Ecumenical Movement. I see many changes taking place in the methodologies–agenda priorities–style of work of Faith and Order. This process must continue with renewed emphasis. In my opinion Faith and Order needs a more integrated agenda and integrated approach.
"What I call horizontalism and activism are acquiring predominance in our ecumenical work in many parts of the world due to emerging new concerns and challenges. Faith and Order is called to keep reminding the churches of the crucial urgency and centrality of unity. It is at the same time challenged to develop an inclusive and holistic vision of unity where differences are perceived as complimenting each other and not conflicting with each other. Faith and Order must have institutional manifestations–but it is essentially a movement. Therefore–the movement character of Faith and Order must be preserved and enhanced further."
At the end of his opening remarks His Holiness called the audience to remember in their meditations and prayers "all those who in the last 75 years have contributed to the work of Faith and Order.
The theological gathering–which was attended by many theologians from all parts of the world including the members of the Central Committee–was followed by an Ecumenical service in the Cathedral of Lausanne.